Report on sinking finds watchkeeping failures, alarm turned off

rafe arnott/metro vancouver


Captain Yvette Myers, left, director of marine investigations, Wendy Tadros, chair of the Transportation Safety Board and Captain Pierre Murray, senior marine investigator with the TSB, answer questions about the final report into the sinking of the Queen of the North in Vancouver yesterday.

The senior officer on the Queen of the North deck the night it sank made an emotional apology yesterday as the Transportation Safety Board issued its final report into the accident.

Karl Lilgert addressed everyone impacted by the sinking, in which two people went missing and have now been declared dead.

"Words are inadequate for the sorrow and grief I feel," Lilgert said in a written statement. "There isn’t a day that I don’t think about everyone that was impacted by this tragic accident.

"I continue to grieve for the missing persons and would with all my heart exchange my life for theirs."

The Queen of the North sank to the bottom of Wright Sound around 1 a.m. on March 22, 2006, after running aground on Gil Island.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) released its final report into the sinking yesterday.

It found that a crucial course change was missed and the ship’s position and sailing were not properly monitored, likely because the two people on the bridge at the time — Lilgert and Karen Bricker — were talking.

Wendy Tadros, chair of the TSB, said that an alarm that would have alerted the crew to the fact the ship was off course was turned off.

"Essentially, the system failed that night," she said. "Sound watchkeeping practices were not followed."

She added that if the ship had a voyage data recorder, it would have been clear what happened in the 14 minutes it took for the ferry to go off course and hit land.

The board has recommended that, in an emergency, all passengers be accounted for and evacuated safely, and that voyage data recorders be installed on all large vessels.

recommendation being followed

  • B.C. Ferries President and CEO David Hahn said voyage data recorders have been put on 17 vessels, with more to come.

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